An Iranian oil tanker burning for more than a week in the East China Sea exploded and sank on Sunday, Chinese state television reported.
The Sanchi erupted into flames after colliding with a Hong Kong-registered freighter on January 6, CCTV reported.
China’s transport ministry said the tanker “suddenly exploded” around noon on Sunday and was quickly engulfed in fire, with the smoke and flames rising as high 1km (3,300 feet).
An Iranian official also said on Sunday there was no chance of finding alive any of the tanker’s 32 crew members.
“There is no hope of finding survivors among the members of the crew,” Mohammad Rastad, spokesman for the Iranian rescue team sent to Shanghai, told Iran’s state broadcaster.
The Sanchi, carrying 136,000 tonnes of light crude oil from Iran, collided with the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter, 160 nautical miles east of Shanghai.
It remains unclear if there has been a significant oil leak into the sea.
Rastad said information from members of the Crystal crew suggested all the personnel on the Sanchi were killed in the first hour of the accident “due to the explosion and the release of gas”.
“Despite our efforts, it has not been possible to extinguish the fire and recover the bodies due to repeated explosions and gas leaks,” he said.
“Two-thirds of the tanker is submerged, and the fire has spread to the entirety of the ship, and we can no longer approach it.”
Reuters, Agence France-Presse